National football team Harambee Stars have suffered a major blow with news that on-form Kashiwa Reysol striker Michael Olunga will skip this week’s two-legged Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash against Comoros.
The 26-year-old Japan-based forward, who scored the equaliser for Stars in their famous 1-1 away draw against Egypt in last year’s opening Group G tie, is set to miss tomorrow’s 7pm first leg clash against the group leaders at Kasarani as well as Sunday’s return leg encounter in Moroni due to coronavirus related restrictions.
In Olunga’s place, coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee has called up Zambia-based John Mark Makwatta for the Comoros assignment. Kenya is currently joint-second in the group with two points alongside the Pharaohs after the identical 1-1 home draw against Togo in November 2019.
Kashiwa Reysol, Olunga’s employers has had 13 players and staff including their coach Nelsinho Baptista returning positive for the coronavirus.
The recent outbreak forced the J-League to indefinitely suspend the Levain Cup final between Reysol and FC Tokyo. The Cup final was supposed to be played on November 7.
In the absence of the current leading Japanese league’s top scorer (23 goals), head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee will bank on the attacking quartet of Masud Juma (JS Kabylie, Algeria), John Avire (Tanta FC, Egypt), Oscar Wamalwa (Ulinzi Stars) and Gor Mahia’s teenage sensation Benson Omala for goals.
However, the good news for Stars fans is that captain Victor Wanyama will be available for the match.
Wanyama is among the six foreign-based players, who were due to link up with the rest of the team at their Kasarani residential camp yesterday.
Other players, who were expected to join the camp yesterday include Cercle Brugge midfielder Johanna Omolo, Antony Akumu (Kaizer Chiefs), Eric Ouma (AIK) and Zesco United duo of goalkeeper Ian Otieno and defender David Owino.
Wanyama is coming back to the team after producing a man of the match performance in Montreal Impact’s 3-2 win over DC United in their final match of the regular season of the Major Soccer League (MSL) on Sunday night.
The midfielder cancelled out Ola Kamara’s effort midway through the second half before Romell Quioto completed Impact’s comeback to help them qualify for the play offs for the first time since 2016. This was Wanyama’s second goal since joining the Thierry Henry-trained side in March from Tottenham Hotspurs.
- Gym Trainer Wins Property Row, Court Awards Him A Mansion, Land, Benz From Rich Late Wife
- Uhuru, Raila Open Window For Consensus In BBI Report
- Sarah Wairimu Reveals Why Tob Cohen Was Brutally Murdered And Dumped In Septic Tank
- Veteran Luo Journalist Juma Aluoch Succumbs To Covid-19
Experienced goalkeeper Arnold Origi leads the other group of foreign-based players who have already reported to camp. Origi, who recently parted ways with his Finnish top tier club HIFK Fotbal after two seasons, is making a return to the team after almost five years in the cold.
He is in the camp alongside immediate former Beijing Renhe winger Ayub Timbe, Joseph Okumu (Elfsborg), Brian Mandela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Eric Johanna Omondi (Jonkoping’s Sodra), Cliff Nyakeya (Masr FC), John Avire (Tanta FC) and UD Las Palmas’ midfielder Ismael Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, the Comoros national football team is set to jet into the country this morning ahead of tomorrow’s 2021 Afcon qualifiers fixture against Harambee Stars.
The Les Coelacantes is composed of foreign-based players with 31 years old Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) striker El Fardou Ben Nabouhane being one of their most experienced players.